Model UN studies countries, prepares for conference

by Tia Nearmyer

Latvia is a member of NATO, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization. It practices parliamentary democracy and is experiencing problems with air pollution and household waste.

Average students don’t know these facts about Latvia, but members of the Model United Nations have studied them extensively.

Students chose a country they would like to represent, individually research it and by conference time are well informed of the inter-workings of their country. A group of members of Model UN selected Latvia, among other countries, to represent at the Midwest Model UN Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

However, the members know far more about the countries they selected than their type of government and problems with waste disposal. The group researching Latvia is also focusing their research on AIDS, tuberculosis and poverty.

Other countries Simpson College will be representing include Greece, Denmark, Bosnia and Lichtenstein.

Model UN is a one-credit class offered each spring by Eduardo Magalhaes, associate professor of political science. Meetings are held each Thursday in preparation for the conference at the end of this month.

According to Magalhaes, he would like students in the class to develop a better understanding of world issues and an appreciation for other countries. He also said they gain practical experience that can be applied to other parts of life.

Magalhaes helps students find ways to research their countries and makes sure they aren’t leaving out any key components.

Simpson is the only school in Iowa that participates continuously in the conference. Simpson has a current Model UN streak of 20 years. Magalhaes has been the advisor of the program for the last 14 years.

Junior Kyle Bloom is a returning member of Model UN.

“Eduardo does a wonderful job coordinating the event in St. Louis,” Bloom said.

On Feb. 23, the group, along with at least 50 other schools, will travel to St. Louis for conference.

Senior Kyle Doyle looks forward to the trip.

“It will be interesting when we get there,” Doyle said. “I will have a better appreciation and understanding for the UN and how it works.”

They spend all day in committee meetings representing their country. In meetings, they try to form agreements to pass resolutions and amend bills. It is very similar to actual UN meetings.

A few of this year’s topics include global disarmament, human rights in Myanmar and prevention of terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Some students take the class as part of their major, in fact, two credits of Model UN are required of international relation majors. However, almost half the students in the class are in different majors.

Bloom and Doyle, criminal justice and marketing majors respectively, both agreed they have already learned practical skills that could be applied to anything in life.

“In previous years, I learned the process of voting delegation and how resolutions get passed,” Bloom said. “I’m really looking forward to learning more.”